The Nashville Predators said goodbye to Shea Weber in a blockbuster trade this summer, and in doing so the team’s captaincy was vacated. But the captaincy is no longer vacant as Mike Fisher will reportedly take over as the new leader in Music City.
According to The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan, Fisher, 36, will become the sixth captain in Predators history and the selection of Fisher as the captain will be made official during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
While there were other options for the captaincy, including Roman Josi, James Neal and the player Weber was traded for, P.K. Subban, Fisher has a longstanding history with the Predators and has spent the better part of the past six seasons with the franchise. His tenure, veteran status and experience as part of the leadership group no doubt helped him earn the ‘C’ in Nashville.
Even though Fisher has spent time as an alternate captain in the league, this will be his first captaincy in the NHL. For the past four campaigns, Fisher has been an alternate for the Predators and he was an alternate for the Ottawa Senators during the final three seasons of his tenure in Canada’s capital. The last time Fisher was a captain was with the Sudbury Wolves in 1998-99, his final season in the OHL.
Over his 341 games in Nashville, Fisher has contributed 91 goals and 195 points as a fixture of the Predators’ second line. Though his scoring has dropped off in the past few seasons — he mustered 13 goals and 23 points in 70 games in 2015-16 marking his lowest full-season point total since his sophomore year — Fisher remains one of the more heavily relied upon defensive players in the Predators’ arsenal and, clearly, a valued member of the leadership group.
The most interesting thing about Fisher being appointed captain is that he has only one season left on his current contract.
Fisher signed a two-year, $8.8-million extension in June 2015 to remain with the Predators, and taking on the captaincy in Nashville could be an indication the Predators are seeking to lock Fisher up for at least one or two more years. With Fisher already at the tail end of his career, it seems unlikely Predators GM David Poile would extend anything long-term to Fisher, but keeping their newest captain around until he’s 37 or 38 seems like a possibility.
However, it’s likely that Fisher’s captaincy will be a transitional one, regardless of how long he sticks around. Fisher is, as mentioned, entering the final seasons of his career and part of his duties will be guiding whoever joins him as part of the leadership group and ushering in the next generation of leaders in Nashville. The aforementioned Neal, Josi and Subban, as well as youngster Filip Forsberg, could all be players who are viewed as potential successors to Fisher whenever he should leave the Predators. Putting the captaincy on Fisher allows for the rest of the team to grow into leadership roles.
In Fisher, the Predators will have the third-oldest captain in the league. Only Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan and Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, both 39, are older than Fisher.
UPDATE: Fisher was officially named the captain Thursday. The Predators called Fisher the seventh captain in franchise history, which means they've included the 15-day captaincy of Scott Walker among their official list of team captains. However, Fisher will become the sixth full-time, full-season captain, taking over the duties from Weber.
In a release, Poile said it was "the right time" for Fisher to take over.
“In my mind, he could’ve easily been the captain many times in his career, but this is his time," . "It’s the perfect fit. You look for the characteristics you want in a captain in terms of the personal life, how he conducts himself, the role model part of it, and it’s A-plus with him.”
Predators coach Peter Laviolette added that Fisher's ability to lead by example will be an important part of his captaincy.
"He comes into camp in shape, he works as hard as any guy on the ice, if not harder every day, and he plays the game with passion and purpose," Laviolette said. "For young players to rub shoulders with that on a regular basis and to be able to watch him and learn from him, those experiences will help grow our team as well. There’s great confidence amongst the coaches and the managers that Mike Fisher is the next guy to lead this team.”
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